The Story of My Autoimmune Disease
I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease about a year ago.
The process to a diagnosis was awful. I am not one who likes to be poked and prodded. Initially physicians say “We will run these tests, X, Y and Z, and then when we get the results and go from there.”
For most people those initial tests are sufficient and the testing stops there. Me? No. One Physician, two GI specialists, one x-ray, one cat scan, several blood tests, urine cups, one pancreas removal and one endoscopy later…nothing. Seriously, I can remember the last visit with my GI specialist and them saying that there was nothing more they could do and to contact them if my discomfort got any worse.
My husband was working a ton of hours at the car dealership he was at, so this girl had to endure most office visits with both kiddos under 5 in tow. Yay! So by the last visit I basically told my husband I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore. Dragging restless bored kids from appointment to appointment and seeing bills come in for tests that resulted in nothing, took it’s toll on me and it just wasn’t worth seeking an answer anymore.
It all started with just plain stomach pain. This pain just appeared in my gut, and I just learned to live with it. I had no idea what was bothering me, and it took me a couple months to realize it wasn’t normal. I was also experiencing a lot of headaches. Which is not normal for me. I hardly had headaches, ever. Then my memory was starting to just fail me. I couldn’t remember…anything. Wait, what was I talking about?……Just Kidding, my memory is much better now. But the constant brain fog feeling was real. Talk about being scared you’d forget your kids somewhere. My hair was falling out. I had no menstrual cycle. I mean no complaints there, except thats totally not normal. On and on and on were the symptoms.
I remember a friend mentioning a certain naturopathic doctor they had seen for their stomach issues. Although it wasn’t the same issue I was having exactly, I was willing to give this a shot. I am not a medicine or prescription kind of person, naturally I like to go a natural route first before anything else, so this opportunity to meet with this kind of doctor appealed to me.
Before meeting her, she sent me a blood test to be done. Which I had mentioned I didn’t need one since I could supply her with the previous 50 I had taken. She asked to see one but insured me that she had no doubt her test would be looking more extensively than the others. I also had to track my eating habits for the week. So, I sent her everything she had asked previous to my appointment. Which was a 2 hour long visit. I was there not 15 min and she told me exactly what I had. She put my blood test that she had ran in front of me and circled all the signs. All the things the other doctors didn’t test for. Mainly because of my age, they didn’t bother to test any more extensively than they did. Way to go healthcare of america.
I cannot tell you the relief, anger and the anxiety I felt all at once. Relief because the search was finally over! Anger because of everything I had to endure, to get to this point. Whereas, had I come to her first I could have saved myself a whole lot of trouble. Anxiety, because if you tell me I have anything with the word disease in it, I almost go into funeral planning mode. I mean I was 26! I ate my vegetables! Come on! So the official diagnosis was, Hashimoto’s. Hashi what!? There is no way I have whatever that is I couldn’t pronounce. But there it was black and white. Hashimoto’s, was now apart of who I am. Lets not forget, I was also told leaky gut and leaky brain were also culprits to my feeling ill.
Although the visit was 2 hours, that was the best doctors visit I have ever had. We talked. Like literally, talked. She wasn’t rushing me out to see another patient. I wasn’t being thrown prescriptions and a check up call in two weeks. She genuinely wanted to get to know the ins and outs of my life and my health. Wow. That’s a first. And she gave me options of routes we can go to take this head on. I wasn’t pressured to do anything, it was all left up to my choice and how I wanted to approach this. I believed that my body and it’s ability to heal should not be left up to one pill to be taken for the rest of my life, that wasn’t made for the specific needs of my body. So I chose, to heal my body with diet change, supplements, and essential oils. As well as educating myself on my disease. I couldn’t be more grateful for her place in my life during this time.
So, Hashimoto’s? What is it? An autoimmune disease. Which is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the body’s own cells and organs. Normally, the immune system protects the body from infection by identifying and destroying bacteria, viruses, and other potentially harmful foreign substances. In Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, causing inflammation and interfering with its ability to produce thyroid hormones. Large numbers of white blood cells called lymphocytes accumulate in the thyroid. Lymphocytes make the antibodies that start the autoimmune process (www.niddk.nih.gov).
Okay so that explains that, but leaky gut? Leaky brain? That’s not a real thing is it?
Thanks to Dr. Axe, a reputable online health expert, I have found a simple explanation. Leaky gut- “Think of the lining of your digestive tract like a net with extremely small holes in it that only allow specific substances to pass through. Your gut lining works as a barrier keeping out bigger particles that can damage your system. When someone has leaky gut (often referred to as increased intestinal permeability), the “net” in your digestive tract gets damaged, which causes even bigger holes to develop in your net, so things that normally can’t pass through, are now be able to. Some of the things that can now pass through include proteins like gluten, bad bacteria and undigested foods particles. Toxic waste can also leak from the inside of your intestinal wall into your bloodstream causing an immune reaction.”
Sounds fun right? Oh, it gets better.
Lets break down what leaky brain is. “A leaky brain is when that protective blood brain barrier has become breached and substances normally kept out of the brain are able to cross over through the walls of the vessels into the brain”….”Once the blood brain barrier has been compromised, the brain is susceptible to damage from heavy metals, bacteria, environmental toxins and other harmful substances that would normally be banned from the brain. Leaky brain can lead to more serious neurological conditions like deppression, ADD/ADHD, siezures, Autism, mental illness, and chronic pain.”(Primohealthcoach.com).”
This may all sound far fetched to you. Because, if you know me, I am sure you had no idea that any of this was going on. Mainly because I got used to functioning feeling this way. I knew how to endure it. And on hard days when I couldn’t, I tried to give myself two days to handle it and then get back on my feet. But I am telling you, the more educated I became on these separate illnesses, the more the pieces were falling into place. It was like someone finally understood how my body was feeling.
It was under her encouragement and a given list of books that I should read, to take my health into my own hands. So that I could make better informed decisions about my body. As well as understand what my body is going through. Why hadn’t I done this sooner? And honestly, the only reason I could come up with was that I was never taught to. I grew up, going to the doctor. You just were supposed to do what everyone told you that you had to do. You got this many shots, you take antibiotics and you don’t question a prescription. And this is not always wrong, but I personally believe this is not always the solution. I have learned SO MUCH about an organ’s affect on the rest of the body and why it is so important to maintain the health of any particular organ, particularly for me, the stomach. My gut health.
Which if you haven’t educated yourself on the importance of gut health. DO IT NOW. Did you not just read all the issues I have? Yeah, educate yourself. It’s important. And you won’t regret it.
So how am I now? A lot better.
I still have leaky brain issues. That has been my hardest fight. And occasional flair ups with my autoimmune disease. It’s a process. One that does not come with a quick fix. Currently I am going through a low point in my health. Recently something caused my autoimmune disease to flair up and now that I am feeling better for the most part I am still having brain issues. It’s weird to say that you can feel inflammation in your brain. But when you have felt it, you know thats exactly what it is. I can’t think past what I am doing in the moment and I have trouble trying to think back to the past. It’s there, it’s just as if a cloud is hovering over making it difficult for me to think clearly and put the pieces together. So today that is where I am at, tomorrow is another day. I fight for my health in ways most will not understand. But through the grace of God, I have been learning to hold onto him and not the suffering of my body.
But 95% of the time I feel like a normal person. I have no symptoms of Hashimoto’s. Although I will have it for life, I am grateful that I can live my life pain free. It is still scary. I think long term and I tell my husband often, I will most definitely be the first to go. I have the most defective body. Haha. However long of a life I am granted, I am grateful to God to be able to use my experience and help others in the same situation. It is definitely frustrating to feel helpless and hopeless when it comes to your own body.
If you feel an interest in the issues I have been discussing above, or if you feel like you can related to some of the issues and you want to look further into it here are some well researched and informative resources I highly recommend. Maybe you are going through the same thing, know that I am praying for you. They don’t call it an invisible disease for nothing. It’s a lonely time. Sometimes it’s hard for people to understand what they can’t see.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”
2 Corinthians 12:9
Why Isn’t My Brain Working? (book) by Datis Kharrazian
Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? (book) by Datis Kharraziac